GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Thursday evening, community members and leaders, pastors, and law enforcement gathered at the WOOD TV8 studio to discuss the recent wave of violence in Grand Rapids and what can be done to stop it during the "Beyond the Violence" town hall forum.
On television, those who have lost family members to violence and those who have struggled to avoid a dangerous life shared their stories. But it seemed that the conversation took a turn after the special ended as the forum continued off TV and only on woodtv.com.
==Watch: The portion of the Beyond the Violence forum that only streamed on woodtv.com==
The conversation took on the issues that don't often meet the eye, including underlying family issues.
"I'm going to take off my Kellogg hat and put on my community hat," said Nadia Brigham of the Kellogg Foundation. "I was a teen mom. I was 14 when I got pregnant."
"We as young women, we glamorize the guys with the new clothes on, that could pick us up in high school in the new cars," said community member Aarie Wade.
And those with perspectives few would understand spoke, like Moe McCoy of Gillespie Funeral Home, who sees the victims once it's far too late. McCoy told a story of a noise at the building when he thought he was alone.
"I heard this cry and I didn't know what it was. Ran downstairs, it was a mother just weeping," McCoy said.
Community leaders from police chiefs to mayors to school leaders were there. Many spent time as listeners.
The Kent County Sheriff pointed out what he didn't hear: Gun control.
"I didn't hear anybody talk about that here today. They talked about families. They talked about hearts," Sheriff Lawrence Stelma said. "One of the things I've learned is that the people themselves realize where this problem is."
But perhaps the most important take away from this happened and proof that the conversation isn't over was the connections made and the voices that were heard.
And many, like 13-year-old Chosun Rhodes, left with a new realization:
"I'm not alone," said Rhodes. "That it's more people in the community trying to also help."
The conversation happened more than just in the WOOD TV8 studio: It was very active on social media. Among the comments:
CEO. PrayerWarrior: "It starts at home, parents need to step up their game."
Xavier Santiago: "Here is an advice to keep the violence out of the city: Give the community things to do. Sports, community events, hobbies."
You are invited to join the conversation on Twitter and on the WOOD TV8 Facebook page.
=="Beyond the Violence" will re-air Saturday at 9 p.m. on WOOD TV8==
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